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Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Long, Slow Road to Indigenous Recognition

In 1955 Ethel Gagi Mosby-Anderson (1937-2004) became the first islander typist at the office of the Director of Native Affairs on Thursday Island. She is seen here using an Imperial 50 standard typewriter. 
Thursday Island is in the Torres Strait Islands archipelago 24 miles north of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.
A referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia's constitution will be discussed at a summit in Sydney on Monday. Leaders from the Indigenous community and both sides of the nation's politics will attempt to find common ground on the details of the proposal. About 40 Indigenous representatives are expected to attend the consultations, which will be crucial to settling a question to put to voters. One plan is to hold the vote on the 50th anniversary of the successful May 1967 referendum that granted increased rights to Indigenous Australians, but the vote could be held at the next federation election, possibly as early as next year.
That it took until 1955 for an islander to be appointed a typist in the office of the Director of Native Affairs on Thursday Island says something about Australia's poor race record.
The Australian referendum of May 27, 1967, determined whether two references in the Australian Constitution, which discriminated against Aboriginal people, should be removed. This resulted in the highest 'Yes' vote ever recorded in a federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for change. Because the majority of parliamentarians supported the proposed amendment, a 'No' case was never formulated for presentation as part of the referendum campaign.
Aboriginal people did not become Australian citizens until 1949, when a separate Australian citizenship was created for the first time (before that time all Australians, including Aborigines, were British subjects). The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1949 gave Aborigines the right to vote in federal elections if they were able to vote in their state elections, or if they had served in the defence force. However, Aboriginal people in Queensland were disqualified from voting until 1965, and in Western Australia and the Northern Territory the right was conditional (Indigenous people voted in the West Australia election in 1962). The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 gave all Aborigines the option of enrolling to vote in federal elections. It was not until the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act 1983 that voting became compulsory for Aborigines as it was for other Australians. One result of the two constitutional amendments in 1967 was that Indigenous Australians ceased to be mentioned at all in the national constitution.
An Aboriginal girl, using a Royal, is among those being supervised by a nun in a typing and adding machine class at the Home of the Good Shepherd in Ashfield, Sydney, in 1963.
It has always been a very different story in neighbouring New Zealand, as this 1906 photograph of a Māori woman at a Remington standard typewriter in Christchurch perhaps reflects. 
Māori gained ‘all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects’ under Article Three of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. When the position of Māori was challenged because of their ‘non-British’ (communal) form of land tenure, their status as British subjects was confirmed by the Native Rights Act 1865. For New Zealand’s first election, in 1853, voters had to be male, aged 21 or over, and British subjects who either owned or rented property worth a moderate amount of money. Only a few Māori could vote, as most Māori land was owned collectively. In 1867 the government created four Māori electorates which covered the whole country. All Māori men aged 21 or over became eligible to vote for these Māori seats. Separate Māori seats still existed in the early 2000s, voted on by people registered on the Māori electoral roll. Since 1974 Māori have had to choose whether to be on either the Māori roll or the general roll.

Wagner Schneider Typewriter

I'm trying to pin down this machine, which is only identified as a Wagner Schneider typewriter from 1888.
It looks like a much more elaborate version of Lee Spear Burridge's 1885 Sun index:
Could it possibly have anything to do with Franz Xaver Wagner? Some of his patented designs from this period look quite similar (notably #393318), but they employ typewheels.
When I checked with Ernst Martin, I was directed from Wagner & Schneider (of Zürich) in the index to a Kosmopolit of the same year, in a section on typewriters for the blind.
This entry seems to be in the main about the Kovâko, made in St Petersburg, Russia.
Friedrich Müller has no mention of a Wagner Schneider typewriter.
The Martin entry which mentions Wagner Schneider is obviously not for the same Kosmopolit as this one:
Auction Team Breker in Cologne says of this more familiar model: "This is the second German typewriter in history, made by sewing machine manufacturer Guhl & Harbeck, Hamburg."
Breker adds that the first German typewriter was the Hammonia of 1882, also made by Guhl & Harbeck (this example from the Martin Howard Collection):

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Blind Bard of Kentucky and his Tri-Type Diplograph Typewriter

James Morrison Heady (18-1915)
This newspaper story about Morrison Heady appeared in November 1869, meaning he had invented his Diplograph Embossing Typewriter before this time. He was still using it, or a later version of it, in 1914, as this segment from a profile in The Silent Worker shows:
At the flip of a lever, the Diplograph wrote in three different types: Boston Line Type (developed by Samuel Gridley Howe [1801-76, see below])New York Point (a Braille-like system of tactile writing for the blind invented in 1868 by William Bell Wait, a director at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind), and Braille (Diplo meaning "double"). Wait also invented the 1894 "Kleidograph", a typewriter with 12 keys for embossing New York Point on paper, and the "Stereograph", for creating metal plates to be used in printing.
The Kleidograph from the Martin Howard Collection. See Martin's story on this machine at his website here and on Wait here.
Heady in his old age
The genesis for the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky, was an 1854 project by blind Kentuckian James Morrison Heady to collect donations in order to have printed a raised letter version of Milton's Paradise Lost. Heady, who had moved to Louisville to teach music in 1847 and then to Boston in 1854, wrote to Howe in an effort to arrange this through the New England Asylum for the Blind (later the Perkins School for the Blind), then in South Boston. Heady became a close friend of Howe, as well as Laura Dewey Lynn Bridgman (1829-89) and later a young Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968), who at various times both lived at the Perkins Institute. Heady and Bridgman often corresponded, including on the subject of a writing machine for the blind - Heady encouraged Bridgman to write poetry. John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92), a fellow poet and, like Howe, an advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States, was among those who read to him. 
Laura Bridgman at South Boston
Helen Keller using a Hammond typewriter
Heady inspired a blind man in Noxubee, Mississippi, Dempsey Barnes Sherrod (born North Carolina District, Floyd, Georgia, 1832; died Washington DC, where he was an agent for the Institute for the Blind, 1879), to promote the idea of a national publishing house for raised print books. In 1857 Sherrod obtained a charter from the Mississippi legislature to set aside funds for such a publishing house, but in honour of Heady he selected Louisville as the site for the venture. The American Printing House for the Blind was incorporated in Louisville in 1858. Space for it was set aside in the basement of the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind. In 1860 the APH received appropriations of $1000 from Kentucky and Mississippi to buy an embossing press, but the Civil War pushed the start of publishing back to 1866. The first book the APH printed was Fables and Tales for Children.
James Morrison Heady was born at Elk Creek, Spencer County, Kentucky, on July 19, 1829, the son of James Jackson Heady (1798-1876), a country doctor who was also a farmer, and Louis Eastburn Heady (1802-79). Heady lost the sight in his left eye at age three, when hit by a chip from a woodcutter's axe. Then, at 16, while watching schoolmates playing catch-as-catch-can in front of his log cabin school, the bare heel of another boy struck him in the right eye and destroyed his remaining eyesight.
For one year from 1845 he attended the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind in Louisville and then the Ohio Institute for 14 months. Earlier, at age nine, his pony threw him headfirst into a pile of rocks and he developed a ringing in his ears as well as a fever, which was treated with quinine. His hearing started to deteriorate when he was 18 and by the age of 25 he had to use a trumpet in order to hear. By 40 he was completely deaf. But by the age of 34 he was a published author (calling himself "Uncle Juvinell"), with a biography of George Washington, for which he was paid $325. The book went into three editions and sold 8000 copies.:
It was made of thin yellow cotton. "With comparatively little practice he learned to distinguish the positions of the various letters on the glove, and then it was an easy matter for him to make out any words as this or that friend spelled them with careful linger on the glove. Best friends, those who spelled to him often, can now tap out words upon his glove almost as fast as an expert typewriter moves. Never for a moment has Mr Heady lost touch with the world. If you wish any figures on the cost of the Panama Canal; if you are looking for expert information about the East River Tunnel; if you are interested in monorail cars, aeroplanes, automobiles, radium, you will find a mine of information in the discourse of this octogenarian blind man."
Undeterred by the massive setbacks in his life, Heady  invented a "talking glove" - an alphabet glove that allowed sighted and hearing people to spell words into his hand. An 1882 newspaper report said:
An accomplished chess player, musician, published composer and prolific author of biographies, poetry, adventure novels and love stories, and children's stories, Heady also invented the self-opening gate, a swivel chair, an hydraulic water lift, and a thermos to keep coffee warm, as well as building a prototype of a steam-powered embossing press.
Youngsters talk to Heady through his glove
As an eight-year-old, Keller wrote to Heady, calling him "My dear uncle Morrie". "I think you will be very glad to receive a letter from your dear little friend Helen. I am very happy to write to you because I think of you and love you. I read pretty stories in the book you sent me, about Charles and his boat, and Arthur and his dream, and Rosa and the sheep." In another letter in 1888, Keller wrote, "I am happy to write you a letter, I do love you, and I will hug and kiss you when I see you."
He was living in Louisville when he was asked by a publisher to condense one of his manuscripts. Heady said to his older sister Emarine Beard (1827-1917), "I'll do it too if I'm not condensed first." He died a few minutes later. It was December 20, 1915, and he was aged 86.
Heady's obituary in The New York Times:
The full 1869 story on Heady, which indicates that several details about his early life were later incorrectly reported:

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Saved from the Crystal Palace Fire

Samuel Ward Francis' 1857 patent model typewriter is in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington DC today because some brave soul saved it from the New York Crystal Palace fire 157 years ago.
On October 7, 1858, two days after the fire, The New York Times reported:
A day earlier, the Times had feared the worst, listing Francis' typewriter among the many machines destroyed in the fire:
Francis may not have been immediately aware that his machine had been saved - unless, of course, by "the young man in charge", the Times meant Francis himself, as he was just 22 at the time.
Also, the Times did not make it clear whether it was this young man who saved the typewriter, or the typewriter itself, which had suffered "but slight injury". Here it is on its original table, with the top section in place:
We might assume it was the attendant, because the complete machine looked in pretty good nick, for its age, in the Smithsonian when this photograph was taken (on another table) in the mid-1990s:
And here is Hope Simmons using it at the Smithsonian in July 1928:
Assuming the "young man" was not Francis himself, does this Museum of the City of New York blog comment offer a hint to his identify? "I am trying to solve a mystery connected to the Crystal Palace fire of 1858. In my possession is a gentleman’s walking stick inscribed and given to a Frances C. Tredwell, who allegedly rushed into the fire and saved some artifacts before the building collapsed. It was signed by a Hector Brollin."
I ask because, apart from his typewriter table, Francis lost a case of his omnibus fare-paying canes, which were also on exhibit. Such a thing could well be mistaken for a walking stick. The Times reported on October 6 that a "Mr Treadwell" had a refreshment franchise at the fair (he lost everything):
The New York Crystal Palace was an exhibition building constructed for the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in New York City in 1853. The building stood in Reservoir Square.
The New York Crystal Palace was directly inspired by the Crystal Palace built in London's Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. Like the Crystal Palace of London, it was constructed from iron and glass.
The New York Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire on October 5, 1858, while the 30th annual fair of the American Institute was being held there. The fire began in a lumber room on the side adjacent to 42nd Street. Within 15 minutes the building's dome fell and in 25 minutes the entire structure had burned to the ground. No lives were lost but the loss of property amounted to more than $350,000. This included the building, valued at $125,000, and exhibits and valuable statuary remaining from the 1853 World's Fair.
Francis had received the patent for his typewriter almost exactly a year earlier, when he was aged 21. He had, at the time, just graduated from Columbia College and entered the University of New York, where from 1859-60 he was a member of Professor Valentine Mott's surgical staff. Samuel’s father, John Wakefield Francis, had started his working life as an apprentice printer before becoming a physician.